SMS vs Email: which is the most effective channel

Effective communication is crucial for businesses to thrive. While email has long been a staple of corporate communication, the rise of mobile messaging has brought forth a new competitor: SMS (Short Message Service) and its rich messaging counterparts like WhatsApp and RCS (Rich Communication Services). In this blog post, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of both SMS and email, helping you understand which communication channel may be more suitable for your business needs.

Instant delivery and open rates

SMS: the power of instant and direct communication
SMS messaging provides the advantage of instant delivery, allowing businesses to reach their recipients instantly. On average, SMS messages are delivered within seconds, ensuring timely communication. Additionally, SMS boasts impressive open rates, with studies showing that SMS messages have an open rate of over 98% compared to email's average open rate of around 20%. This high open rate can be attributed to the fact that SMS notifications are often read within minutes of being received, ensuring that your message is seen by the intended audience.

Email: The dependability of reach and open rates
While email may not have the same level of instant delivery as SMS, it offers the advantage of reaching a broader audience. Email allows you to simultaneously send messages to multiple recipients, making it ideal for mass communication. Despite lower open rates, email still offers considerable reach and remains a popular method for delivering detailed information and longer-form content.

Message length and content flexibility

SMS: Concise and attention-grabbing messages
One of the key strengths of SMS is its concise nature. With a character limit typically around 160 characters per message, SMS forces businesses to communicate their message in a distinct and attention-grabbing manner. This brevity ensures that recipients quickly understand the core message without the need for extensive reading. Additionally, SMS messages can include clickable links, enabling businesses to direct recipients to specific landing pages for more information.

Email: Versatile and detailed content delivery
Email offers more flexibility in terms of message length and content delivery. With larger character limits and the ability to include attachments, images, and multimedia content, email allows businesses to provide detailed information and engage recipients with rich media. This versatility makes email well-suited for sharing comprehensive product descriptions, newsletters or multimedia presentations.

Interactivity and engagement

SMS: Seamless interaction and personalisation
SMS messaging enables businesses to foster interactivity and personalisation through various techniques. Features such as two-way communication and automated responses allow recipients to engage with the message directly. Furthermore, personalised SMS messages can be tailored to each recipient, enhancing customer experience and increasing engagement.

Email: Enhanced design and multimedia capabilities
Email provides a canvas for creative design and enhanced interactivity. With HTML templates and the ability to embed multimedia content such as videos, images, and GIFs, email allows businesses to create visually appealing and engaging messages. Interactive elements like buttons and forms can be included to encourage recipients to take specific actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Accessibility and device compatibility

SMS: Wide reach across all mobile devices

SMS messaging has the advantage of being universally accessible across all mobile devices. Unlike some messaging apps that require specific apps or platforms, SMS is available on virtually every mobile phone. This broad accessibility ensures that businesses can reach a wide audience without worrying about compatibility issues or the need for recipients to have specific messaging apps installed.

Email: Availability on multiple platforms

Email is accessible across various devices and platforms, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This versatility allows recipients to access their email accounts and messages from multiple devices, providing convenience and flexibility in communication. Additionally, email clients and apps are available for various operating systems, making it compatible with different software environments.

Security and reliability

SMS: Trustworthy and secure communication
SMS messaging is known for its high level of trustworthiness and security. It relies on cellular networks and encryption protocols, ensuring that messages are securely transmitted between sender and recipient. SMS also provides a reliable communication channel, as it is not dependent on internet connectivity and can be delivered even in areas with limited or unstable network coverage.

Email: Robust security measures and encryption
Email communication has significantly improved its security measures over the years. Encryption protocols and secure email gateways help protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorised access. Many email service providers offer features like two-factor authentication and spam filters to enhance security – which sometimes make important messages end up in the spam inbox. Email can be vulnerable to phishing attacks and spam, which require users to exercise caution and employ proper security practices.


Both SMS and email have their unique strengths and advantages in business communication. SMS offers unparalleled immediacy, high open rates, and personalisation options, making it ideal for time-sensitive messages or urgent notifications. For example, limited product launches, seasonal sales events, time-limited offers, and event invitations. On the other hand, email boasts its versatility, allowing businesses to deliver detailed information, rich media content and fostering engagement through interactive elements that aren't time-sensitive. For example, editorial content, newsletters and long-form content. 

Ultimately, the choice between SMS and email depends on your specific communication goals, target audience, and the context of your message. Consider the urgency, content length, interactivity, and security requirements to determine the most effective channel for your business needs.

LEKAB is a messaging supplier that offers a range of messaging services, including traditional SMS and rich messaging solutions like WhatsApp and RCS. Our messaging experts can help you leverage the power of SMS to enhance your communication strategies and achieve greater success with your business goals.

More about LEKAB
LEKAB provides mobile messaging services, SMS APIs and software for advanced messaging and process automation. We offer digital tools and solutions to companies that want to optimise how they communicate and interact with customers and employees on the mobile to improve productivity, availability and the customer experience through mobile channels. Do you want to know more or ask us for advice? Contact Us!

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